Monday, May 27, 2019

Pretenders: Telling Stories Tim Cook

An artist who actualises all his creative possibilities, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, and succeeds - through the pure realization of a will to power that will not yield to anything in this world - in condensing them into a single momentous event, the effect of which is so beautiful yet so shocking that those who contemplate it are left wondering whether it is a work of art or an act of madness, has surely achieved a masterpiece of some kind. It is, as Mishima intended it to be, a cruel and defiant masterpiece: a terror attack on the modern consciousness, a warning to the 'last humans', and a challenge to all those coming after Mishima who would dare to call themselves artists. 

Transcription mostly from the final, brilliant pages of Andrew Rankin's Mishima: Aesthetic Terrorist

From the Archives: Why odd man out is happy being hated

At age 29, the left-wing Anthony Albanese had to be thick-skinned to survive the factional friction of the NSW ALP.

Shadow cabinet split over NSW Labor's next leader

At least eight members are backing Strathfield MP Jodi McKay, but supporters of Kogarah MP Chris Minns say it's still "early days".

Here's the story, as told by Cook:
In 1998 Steve jobs convinced me to leave Compaq behind to join a company that was on the verge of bankruptcy. They made computers. But at that moment at least, people weren't interested in buying them.
Steve had a plan to change things, and I wanted to be a part of it. He wasn't just about the i-mac or the i-pod or everything that came after, he was about the values that brought these inventions to life.
The idea that putting powerful tools in the hands of everyday people helps unleash creativity and moves humanity forward. That we can build things that help us imagine a better world and then make it real.
Tim Cook Just Revealed Steve Jobs Convinced Him to Join Near-Bankrupt Apple With 1 Powerful Thought 

Massachusetts Man Calls Police After Intruder Breaks Into Home, Cleans It, Leaves Without Taking Anything KTLA

On Julian Assange, the administration throws smart and careful out the window Editorial Board, WaPo. First, they came for Assange

Digital Socialism? Evgeny Morosov, New Left Review

Wild Remote Nature Is Being Ruined By Social Media

With the right hashtag, anyone can view thousands of potential destinations—and choose which to visit based on aesthetics alone. A single social-media post can expose lesser-known or isolated places to the world. And that means good places can no longer hide. – The Walrus

How phonies and self-promoters came to rule the world

Your banker, boss, Facebook friend, lover: are they for real? In a me-me, high-tech age that helps fakers to make it, masqueraders are thriving like never before.

Re-elected Prime Minister’s public message to department heads
Don’t get in our way. That’s the message Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave federal secretaries in front of the media at Parliament House on Thursday. Morrison said he respected the role of the public service but there would be “very clear targets” for its performance on implementing policy quickly and not creating “blockages”.

Season 37: Episode 14 – “Inside the no-holds-barred war for control of the Supreme Court. From Brett Kavanaugh to Robert Bork, an investigation of how a 30-year-old grievance transformed the court and turned confirmations into bitter, partisan conflicts.”

See also [subscription req’d] – New Documentary Examines Supreme Court Confirmations From Bork to Kavanaugh. “The U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process and how it devolved into highly charged partisan battles is the focus of a new investigative documentary—’Supreme Revenge’—airing Tuesday night on PBS’s Frontline program…. As part of the Frontline Transparency Project, Frontline will publish a digital collection of extended video and text interviews with key sources, including Collins, Graham, Klobuchar, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, and former Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Heitkamp, and Alan Simpson, R-Wyoming, who share their firsthand insights into the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and the politicization of the Supreme Court as an institution.”

Toni Morrison on the Power of Art and the Writer’s Singular Service to Humanity

Writers — journalists, essayists, bloggers, poets, playwrights — can disturb the social oppression that functions like a coma on the population, a coma despots call peace, and they stanch the blood flow of war that hawks and profiteers thrill to.


Certain kinds of trauma visited on peoples are so deep, so cruel, that unlike money, unlike vengeance, even unlike justice, or rights, or the goodwill of others, only writers can translate such trauma and turn sorrow into meaning, sharpening the moral imagination. A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.

But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis - leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

And journalism - that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative - now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

Events come and go like waves of a fever. We - and the journalists - live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog - and then disappear again, unexplained.

And the formats - in news and documentaries - have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy -...

Who cares if you've read all of Hegel? 'Humanities' started sounding like a disease. 'All you people are capable of is carrying around a volume of Mandelstam'. Many unfamiliar horizons unfurled before us. The intelligentsia grew calamitously poor.

Out of habit, I would go into the used bookstore where the full two-hundred-volume sets of the World Classics Library and Library of Adventures now stood calmly, not flying off the shelves. Those orange bindings, the books that had once driven me mad. I'd stare at the spines and linger, inhaling their smell. Mountains of books! The intelligentsia were selling off their libraries. People had grown poor, of course, but it wasn't just for spare cash - ultimately books had disappointed them. People were disillusioned. It became rude to ask, 'What are you reading?' Too much about our lives had changed, and these weren't things you could read about in books. Russian novelists don't teach you how to become successful. How to get rich ... Oblomov lies on his couch, Chekhov's protagonists drink tea and complain about their lives ...

In the camp, my father met a lot of educated people. He never met people that interesting anywhere else. Some of them wrote poems; the ones who did were more likely to survive. Like the priests who would pray.

... I was already sick of all those conversations from constantly hearing them at home: communism, the meaning of life, the happiness of others ... Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov ... They weren't my idols - they were my mother's. The people who read books and dreamed of flying, like Chekhov's seagull, were replaced by those who didn't read but knew how to fly.

FRANCIS TURNER: A Tale of Two Coups.

On Brexit and Mueller:

One of reasons why elections are a good thing is that they provide a mechanism for peaceful transitions without the losers being shot or put in jail. The fact that the losers in this election appear to have attempted to undermine the winners is an extremely bad precedent because it leads to the winners deciding to take it out on the losers next time around and that in turn leads to people not relinquishing power short of being turfed out with violence – see Venezuela and any number of Latin American, Central Asian and African dictatorships.
In fact allowing the losers to come up with one way after another to try and delegitimise an election they lost is bad on its own because the ability to “throw the bums out” is a key feature of democracy. If voters can’t trust that their votes will be respected they are likely to resort to other methods of expressing their displeasure with the current set of rulers and that is something that these rulers may come to regret. The good news is that the New AG seems to be doing his job and turning over any number of stones that various parties would have preferred remained unexamined.
It is unclear to me how many of the plotters will end up in the poor house or jail – sadly I suspect most will skate – which means that the distrust of government which fired up the Tea Party and the Trump campaign is not going to dissipate.

from Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time (my book of the year, for what it's worth)